OAKLAND, Calif. -- Washed-up athletes seeking a little more limelight and a lot more money often go to Hollywood.
But by the time Trevor Bell debuted with the Los Angeles Angels last season, he'd already logged more than a decade in front of the camera.
The budding pitching star, 23, first appeared in a Hot Wheels commercial when he was 8.
He's done numerous spots since then, including a Wendy's commercial earlier this year.
"It's not really acting," Bell said of his commercial roles, which require no theatrical training. "I grew up in L.A. and it was always around. It was something that I wanted to do."
Although baseball is Bell's passion, show business is in his blood.
He's the grandson of character actor Bob Bell, who in 1960 started a 25-year run portraying Bozo the Clown on Chicago's WGN.
His two older brothers, Brandon 29, and Jared, 26, are in the industry too (Jared has made spot appearances on "CSI: Miami" and "Cold Case," and Brandon, who played college baseball, does commercials and modeling).
After he throws his last pitch, Trevor said he'd like to try some theatrical roles. But these days his "day job" is all about squashing drama when summoned by manager Mike Scioscia.
And the ability to hawk bacon double cheeseburgers, he says, isn't of much value when he needs to get Derek Jeter to chase a slider in the dirt.
Is pitching burgers anything like pitching?
"A little bit, but not much," he said. "When the director says 'Go,' you go, and when you're on the mound, you've got to go [but] I've never been on the mound and thought 'This is so similar.' That's never happened."
Bell did his first commercial when he was in the third grade, and soon was doing spots for Countrywide Insurance and Kellogg's. The 30-second spots usually took two days to shoot, said Bell, and he remembers the experiences as being "fun."
His all-American blond-haired, blue-eyed looks also landed him on a German coffee commercial, said his mother, Barbie Bell, who manages all three of her sons.
It became apparent early in Bell's acting career that he had what casting directors want, she said, noting a higher than average booking-per-audition rate. "He booked right away," Barbie Bell said. "That's how you know."
Bell apparently made a pretty good impression on baseball scouts at a young age, too.
After completing his freshman year at Southern California's Crescenta Valley High in 2001, Bell was named Baseball America's best 14-year-old pitcher. He was selected in the first round of the supplemental draft by the Angels in 2005.
During high school, acting fell by the wayside as Bell was committed to baseball. The choice has paid off as his baseball stock has held steady, with the Angels intrigued by a power arm that suits a late-inning reliever combined with the command of a polished starter.
Bell features a fastball that tops out in the mid-90 mph range, and a changeup and slider that are above average (by major league standards) too, pitching coach Mike Butcher said.
Just as impressive is a commanding mound presence and a seemingly unflappable demeanor.
"I think he's comfortable with his ability; he knows he can compete," Scioscia said. "He isn't intimidated by anything."
Gideon Rubin is a freelance writer for Sports Media Exchange, a national freelance writing network.